Wedding Nightmares

Wedding Nightmares
Dr. Phil talks to a bride who claims the stress of her upcoming wedding has made her anorexic.
Tricia and Bryan

"My wedding nightmare would be being a fat bride. When in look in the mirror, I see a fat and ugly girl. I only eat when I'm feeling very ill or tired. If I feel I've eaten too much, I throw up. So far I've lost 15 pounds." Tricia goes on to explain that when she was in the seventh grade she suffered from anorexia and asks, "Dr. Phil, how do I deal with the stress that my anorexia is bringing to the wedding?"

Tricia's fiancé Brian sees things differently: "Tricia sees herself as an obese person and she's not. I think Tricia looks fantastic, but I feel she doesn't listen when I compliment her."
"I've dealt with all kinds of eating disorders and this is different from classic anorexia," explains Dr. Phil. "This is situation specific. You were eating fairly normally and perceiving yourself fairly comfortably. And then when the wedding came up, the stress of it hit you and you reverted back to the anorexia. Do you not want to get married?"

"No," says Tricia. "I definitely do want to get married."

Dr. Phil pulls out his notes and tells Tricia, "Deep in your notes, which were voluminous, I found this sentence: 'Maybe he'll just decide not to marry me.' Why did you say that?"

"Um ... I don't know if he wants to deal with this," cries Tricia. "It makes him so angry. So I don't know if he wants a life of therapy and trying to get me better."
"Would you be relieved if he said, 'I don't want to do this'?" asks Dr. Phil.

"No," insists Tricia. "I would be very upset."

"What's your analysis of this?" asks Dr. Phil. "How will you get past this?"

"I guess I need to realize that I can't always have everything perfect and I have to stop this," says Tricia.

"You've known this for a long time," says Dr. Phil. "That's nothing new."
"I'm going to tell you what I think," says Dr. Phil. "I'm not sure you're going to like it but I'm going to tell you the truth. I think you can get this under control. You're in therapy right now for this ... your therapist is very supportive of you being here. She also knows what I'm going to tell you. I don't think you really have anorexia. That's the good news. I think that you are one of those people who has an expectancy of perfection ... it's expressing itself as anorexia ... This re-triggered because now you are going to be center stage ... You get nervous and anxious and seek to control ... and the one thing you can control with perfection is what you put in your mouth.

"The thing I'm going to tell you that you don't want to hear is that I don't think you should get married at this point. You don't want to contaminate this union unless and until the two of you have worked together to get this under control."
Dr. Phil tells Bryan, "You can help a lot. You saying, 'Why don't you just eat something?' isn't helping. What she needs is for you to understand that this is not a voluntary choice that she is making. She is as frustrated with herself as you are, times 10!"

Dr. Phil continues, "Whenever we enter a relationship, we bring our history with us. We either contribute to or contaminate that relationship with our history. You don't want to show up in the marriage with a stress-induced, anxiety-driven anorexia. If you truly love each other, you don't want to do that ... You just don't want me to say it out loud. You've either got to get ready [for marriage] by getting this under control, or you've got to say, 'We're not going to get married until we do.' What do you think about what I'm saying?"

"I think it's right," says Tricia. "I just don't want it to be."